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Greensboro police fire mostly at animals in 2012

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Greensboro police car in motion

(File photo)

GREENSBORO — When a Greensboro police officer shot and wounded a dog last week, it underscored some of the numbers in a new police department report.

The Greensboro Police Department’s annual Professional Standards Division report released Friday showed that officers fired their weapons 78 times in 2012. In all but two cases, officers fired at animals.

Miller said the annual report is intended to help the community better understand the department.

“The report is designed to provide a description of our process,” Chief Ken Miller said. “It’s a way we can be as transparent as we can without releasing (protected) personnel data.”

The 46-page report analyzes seven types of incidents that police routinely investigate — uses of force, citizen complaints, in-custody deaths, forcible entries, vehicle pursuits, motor vehicle collisions and employee injuries.

Uses of force includes shootings. The two people shot by Greensboro police last year both were wounded — as was the dog shot Thursday night when it jumped a fence and charged as officers responded to a burglary call.

The use-of-force category also includes officers’ use of stun guns.

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Officers discharged stun guns 271 times in 2009 and 294 times the following year.

“That trend was unacceptable to me,” Miller said. “I’m concerned about that weapon and how frequently we use it.”

The chief said most use of force happens when officers are trying to put handcuffs on people. If a person under arrest decides to resist, the encounter can end up in a wrestling match. It’s also the most likely time an officer will be injured.

In 2011, the department raised the threshold for using the weapons. The use of stun guns decreased to 227 times that year and to 172 last year.

In 2012, there were 18 use-of-force complaints during calls for service, up from eight in 2011. Police determined all the complaints except one were unfounded. In that incident, an officer shoved someone. Miller said the department disciplined the officer.

“We determined that (push) to be more force than was necessary to address that situation,” Miller said. “We didn’t think any force was necessary.”

The department came under scrutiny this year after four local college students complained of mistreatment after their arrest at Sebastian Village Apartments in April. The department fired one officer, suspended another and required a sergeant to receive counseling.

In 299,063 calls for service last year, citizens filed 87 complaints about courtesy, general conduct and arrests and seizures. The department has received 43 complaints this year, Miller said.

Contact Joe Gamm at 373-7090 and follow @josephgamm on Twitter.

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